Guide to Business Regulations in Australia

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When deciding whether or not to move your business to Australia, one of your key considerations should be how business regulations will affect your organisation. Regulations in Australia may be different than those in your home country, and you may need to structure your business differently for best results.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the business regulations that may affect your organisation when you move it to Australia. We’ll also examine how these regulations may affect your strategic decisions.

Business Registration

One of the first tasks to take care of when moving your business to Australia is to register your business. In addition to registering your business name, you’ll also probably need to attain an Australian Business Number (ABN), a Tax File Number (TFN) and certain licences and permits, depending on your industry and any property you purchase for your business.

When you register your business, you’ll need to choose a business structure. Your business structure will have significant strategic influence on the way your organisation operates and is taxed in the future. The most common types of business structures in Australia are sole trader, company, partnership and trust.

If you’re unsure of which type of structure to choose for your organisation, it’s wise to consult with an Australian business expert about the ramifications of each option. Depending on your business strategy and future plans, your business structure can either help you or hold you back, so choose carefully.

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Employing People

Australia’s skilled workforce is one of the key reasons businesses move here from overseas. The general population is well-educated, and businesses in a variety of industries find plenty of skilled workers to staff their organisations.

It’s important to understand the business regulations regarding employing people in Australia as they can affect how you hire and pay your staff.

The employment system in Australia is designed to serve both employers and employees well. You’ll find Australia-wide requirements as well as regulations from state and territory governments.

Workers can be hired as either employees or contractors, and there are different regulations regarding full-time, part-time, casual, fixed term, daily or weekly hire, probation, contractors and shift workers.

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Regardless of the employees’ categories, all employees are entitled to terms defined by employment standards. These standards include entitlements, leave, termination and redundancy payments and requests for flexible working arrangements.

Australian employers are required to meet occupational health and safety requirements. Some of these requirements are defined by the national government and some are dictated by state or territory governments.

Employers are also responsible for maintaining workers’ compensation insurance, which is administered by the Australian Government.

The retirement pension in Australia is called Superannuation, and employers make payments on behalf of their employers in addition to their agreed-upon wages. These general conditions of employment are the same across all industries.

Taxes

In Australia, taxes are collected and administered by the ATO (the Australian Taxation Office). In certain jurisdictions, state government revenue offices also handle taxes. You can save your business money by paying your taxes on time and taking advantages of certain tax concessions.

Company Tax

Company tax rates are set by the Australian government, and if yours is a non-resident company, it will be taxed on its Australian source income the same as a resident company. Taxable income varies slightly, depending on business structure and industry.

Capital Gains Tax

Your company will pay capital gains taxes when you dispose of assets, and you’ll pay it as part of your income tax. Businesses in Australia are required to keep records of assets to track capital gains tax. Small businesses may qualify for certain capital gains tax concessions.

Goods and Services Tax

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a national consumer tax. It’s collected on most goods and services. If you’ve paid for business supplies, you’re entitled to claim an equivalent input tax credit. As with capital gains tax, small businesses may qualify for GST concessions.

Payroll Tax

States collect taxes on the wages you pay your workers. Payroll tax is calculated on monthly wages, and it must be paid when wages exceed the exemption threshold, which is calculated by your state or territory government.


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Australian Intellectual Property

Australian IP law protects businesses that develop their own intellectual property (patents, trademarks, designs, formulae and secret processes). Australian patents give you a legal right to stop third parties from using your intellectual property in Australia. Australia is also a signatory to many international agreements that protect intellectual property in other countries.

Applications for copyright protection, design protection, trademarks and patents are filed with the appropriate IP office. Domain names can also be filed with the Domain Administration and receive the .au domain.

Australian Import and Export Laws

Australia is one of the best places on earth for being involved in international trade. Our strong trade ties have allowed us to work heavily with markets in the Asia-Pacific area. Australia has six Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with other countries as well as commitments under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for tariffs and tariff quotas.

Australian businesses may import goods from overseas as long as regulations are properly followed. There are regulations regarding duty taxes, permits and quarantine that apply to goods imported into the country. Any goods that don’t comply with the regulations are subject to seizure by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Consumer Law

Australian Consumer Law (ACL) affects all businesses in Australia, so it’s important to understand how these regulations impact your strategy. ACL aims to protect consumers from harmful business practices or unfair contracts, and it joins with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to administer and enforce regulations regarding consumer law.

Some of the laws include providing bills free of charge, including your ABN on receipts and providing refunds for returned goods or for goods and services that do not meet consumer expectations.

Each of these types of regulations will have an effect on your company’s strategies and processes, so it’s important to clearly understand them before you make decisions regarding finances, hiring, the purchase of property or equipment and marketing.

For more information about business regulations in Australia, or to speak with a business expert who can advise you on these matters, reach out to us at Altus Financial.

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Marc Walsh

As a Principal Client Adviser at Altus, I work with business owners of SME’s that have a business vision or a goal they want to achieve. Our clients often work with me to get the best approaches to structuring, cash flow, minimise the risks in their business whilst considering increasing their personal wealth. Let's Connect